How To Set up Time Machine Over VPN?

In some situations, using Apple Time Machine for backups can require (or do not require) you to arrange backup actions over your VPN for security reasons. But, what exactly is the situation with setting up backups?  Do you know how to set up Time Machine over VPN?

If you are using a network-based VPN service to access Time Machine backups, then enabling the backups can be done in two methods. However, the process of backing up your files can vary depending on whether you have a routed (TUN) or bridged (TAP) VPN connection.  

You would first need to understand what connection type you have, after which the setting procedure can be attempted. Seems too complicated to you? Don’t worry, we’ve got all the details below. 

What is a Time Machine?

For those who’re new to the time machine feature, it’s ideal to perceive the fact clearly before delving into the deep discussion. So, what is the Time Machine on Apple? 

Time Machine is a service provided by Apple to your computer to back up your data. It converts a screenshot or file of a compressed background of your Macintosh, which is exactly similar to a backup file containing all data in the system at the time of that backup which you can revert as desired. 

However, Time Machine backups may be applied when you’re required to re-enter the apparatus, create a factory reset or simply refresh your Macintosh after a long absence.

This program is designed to make backing up Macs as basic and simple as possible, and it’s designed to do the work in the background. Once run, it will automatically back up your computer as frequently as you like, with the last saved versions available if you need to make an adjustment to an earlier backup.

How To Set up Time Machine Over VPN

If your Time Machine server is accessible via your network’s VPN interface, it can be used as an alternative to a backup drive. This can be useful in different scenarios when you’re unable to access a computer but are craving continued protection and confidentiality. 

As we mentioned in the beginning, the process will vary with your existing VPN connection type. However, we’re going to describe two different methods for different VPN connections below. Let’s start.

VPN Connection Info

We thought it’s better to clarify the mystery about VPN connections first, so that you don’t face any difficulty during the main process. 

  • Bridged Connection:

Whenever a client implements bridging mode to connect to a physical network that is remote, the IP address assigned as part of this process belongs to an Ethernet physical subnet on the remote network, and the client then appears to be physically connected to that network. 

In order to set up a bridging tool, a remote network requires a TAP device that is compatible with a specific OS and the network comes up with a tool that implements the TAP device natively.

  • Routed Connection

When a client connects via VPN routing, it uses its own separate subnet, and VPNs are automatically set up on both the client machine and remote gateway to ensure the secure exchange of data packets. The client is considered “not a single machine” in this context. So, technically it’s a subnet of several machines.


The main difference between bridging and routing is that a bridged VPN will not propagate IP broadcasts, whereas a routed VPN will establish that there actually is a real interface present on the router using the –dev tun <tun> app. 

When you’re bridging, you must use –dev tap on the router ends for the setup. When you’re routing, you could use either –dev tap or –dev tun, but you must have tangible ends for both programs. 

Setting Up Time Machine Over VPN – Methods

Now it’s time to head to the set-up process. Here we go:

Method 1: For Routed VPN Connections

Time Machine backups are generally not compatible to work over Routed Tun VPN connections except if you make some slight adjustments to your domain. 

The key reason behind this scenario is that the backup server that Time Machine looks for by default is working by using mDNS. So, mDNS may not function in the default setting in the case of a TUN setup. Follow the steps to resolve this issue:

  • Replace IP Address

Instead of going to Time Machine (the utility that lets you schedule retrievals) via its IP address, we suggest you point your USB drive to Time Machine from its network address. Just enter the IP address of your destination and the VPN server’s name (e.g., “192.168.x.x”) into the computer’s network settings and use the resulting substitute.

Input the name for the backup program volume. Identify the Time Machine volume by name in place of its file path. Use the Time Machine volume to mount the backup.

  • Select Disk

Now, navigate to Apple’s menu bar ▲ → Technical → Time Machine → Select Volume and take a look under the Finder’s IP address to see the name After you’ve selected this check box and proceed to use the Disk.

  • Start Backup Process

Go to your Time Machine menu in the menu bar and select “Back Up Now.” It’s possible that the restoration will work using this method. You can verify for yourself whether the backup is working when you’re connected to the VPN. 

If it doesn’t work, you’ll have to erase the older network share by accessing your Select Disk button, then selecting it once again.

Note: If you would prefer to leave Time Machine’s automatic configuration unchanged, you may be able to use mDNS over VPN to access Time Machine by using an mDNS forwarder with your OpenVPN server. Otherwise, it’s ideal to speak with a VPN server host specialist to find out how to configure this for added ease.

Method 2: For Bridged VPN Connections

Bridged networking connections should not impede Time Machine in that regard. Ordinarily, Time Machine will not have any difficulty making backups over such connections. The fun fact is that you don’t even need to update many functions and your Time Machine backup process will work automatically in most cases.

Verifying firewall rules that are associated with your VPN server to be confirmed about whether you can access a Time Machine server on this network.  

 It’s essential if Time Machine backups are being thrown off the VPN connection. Verifying that the mDNS resolver is not blocking the Time Machine connections is also crucial.

When Should You Prevent Time Machine Backup Over VPN?

Depending on the particular conditions and limitations of your network connectivity, you’ll generally try to skip the hassle of setting up Time Machine backups, especially when you’re suffering from a slow or limited broadband connection. 

For instance, if a network has an unsatisfactory download speed or if there is a restriction on data usage, anybody will prefer to avoid backing up a large amount of data using this Time Machine feature over VPN.  

To stop the backup process over VPN, go to Preferences>General. There you’ll find an option labeled “Disable Time Machine backups while connected.” Select this option to ensure the Time Machine backup process won’t be started when you are connected to a VPN. 


We’ve covered a number of the questions sprouting like mushrooms in discussions about Apple users all over the world. The chances are good that your queries are also the same.

Can I use a Time Machine backup on another Mac?

You can share a file on a Macintosh that the resident Mac computers on your network can access as a location for Time Machine backups. On the Macintosh you want to use for this purpose, select the Apple menu, then click the System Preferences option and choose Sharing.

How do I configure my Time Machine?

Click the Time Machine pane of the System Preferences window. Select Time Machine in the left pane, then click the Apple icon to select whether you want to prevent Time Machine from backing up automatically. Slide the switch to On to turn Time Machine on, or slide it to the Off position to close it.

How do I setup a VPN server on my Mac?

Select System Preferences on the Apple menu. Afterward you have to click on the Network option. There you’ll see an Add button on the left. Click on it and look for the Interface pop-up menu.

From this menu, you have to select VPN. Find the VPN type pop-up menu and select your VPN connection type. This will vary based on your network connection.

Does Apple need a VPN?

While iOS devices often boast superior security, they cannot provide a sacrosanct defense against threats found behind poorly secured Wi-Fi networks. Using a VPN connection, you can secure your online activity and data against intrusion, tracking, spoofing, and cybercriminals in open Wi-Fi connections.

Final Words

Whether you want to ensure an extra layer of security or just want to back up your files remotely, knowing how to set up Time Machine over VPN can keep the hassle out. 

We’ve done the job of guiding you through the whole process. However, you should be careful when choosing a VPN service provider. Before you subscribe, collect all necessary information to make it smooth if any modification is required while using Time Machine.

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